With the European Super League failing before even getting off the ground, it is time to consider where football goes from here.
The project led by 12 of the continent’s wealthiest clubs threatened to tear apart the very fabric of association football, so it is hard to pretend we can carry on as normal as if it never happened.
There will be no Super League, for now anyway, but changes to European football are nonetheless on the way and they are far from a victory for the less well off.
The attempted power play by the so-called ‘Dirty Dozen’ ostensibly failed and UEFA’s strength and status has been reinforced, or so it would appear at first glance.
On the other hand, the wantaway clubs are likely in the coming years to get a lot of what they wanted, begging the question if they knew it would fail all along.
UEFA has this week confirmed the new format for the Champions League which will debut in 2024/25 and it is a pretty radical shift, showing once more that Europen football is changing one way or another.
Curiously, the new-look Champions League will have 180 group stage matches, the exact same number proposed by the European Super League and almost double the amount currently played in the Champions League.
Each team will play ten games, which is fewer than the 18 proposed by the European Super League but still an increase on the current format.
That was one of the key desires of the elite clubs, more European fixtures, and more games overall means the potential for greater television and advertising revenue, as well as ticket sales and other matchday income.
The group stage will also take the form of just one group, a virtual league, and the same premise will be introduced to the Europa League and Conference League as well.
This is different from the Super League, which proposed two groups, but interestingly still a shift from the traditional smaller groups to larger leagues.
One of the most controversial aspects of the Champions League’s future plans is that a form of safety net is being provided for elite teams who fail to qualify for the competition via their domestic league.
Two group stage places will be reserved for the teams with the highest coefficient that haven’t already qualified automatically.
As things stand, that would mean if the rules were in place for next season then Liverpool and Arsenal – two of the Super League’s co-founders – would enter the Champions League despite sitting sixth and ninth in the Premier League.
More games and a helping hand for big clubs who have a poor domestic season, so far the new Champions League is sounding like a decent compromise from the perspective of the European Super League clubs.
Then there’s the planned relaxation of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules, which will be music to the ears of the clubs with the most spending power.
Nothing has been confirmed yet on this front, but in response to the COVID-19 crisis, UEFA is preparing to alter the current Financial Fair Play model.
European football’s governing body was also quick to announce increased funding for its competitions following the Super League news, funds which are likely to disproportionately benefit the elite.
The reaction and pressure from fans has been credited with playing a huge role in bringing down the European Super League, but supporters might have to stay mad if they are to truly reclaim the game and fight for a fairer future.
With or without a Super League, the coming years will bring change to European football, change that will see television become even more important and the richest clubs move even further away from the rest, unless, perhaps, fans continue to protest.